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Woodbine notes: Nipissing earns shot at Queen's Plate with Woodbine Oaks win
ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Nipissing’s connections had dreams of the Queen’s Plate as far back as last fall, when the filly stretched out successfully for the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth.
Now those hopes are less than a month from becoming a reality after Nipissing captured the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks by three-quarters of a length for trainer Rachel Halden, jockey Steven Bahen, and the Chiefswood Stable of Robert and Mark Krembil.
“All things are well,” Halden said here Monday morning as she was responding to a flood of congratulations. “She’ll have a few quiet days and see how she trains back, but we’re seriously considering the Plate.”
Nipissing began her current campaign with a sixth-place finish in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Ashland at 1 1/16 miles and then finished second behind the Kentucky-bred Coffee Clique here in the Grade 3 Selene at 1 1/16 miles.
“She always seems to be looking for more ground,” said Halden, a former assistant to trainer Roger Attfield who went out on her own in 2008 and recorded the biggest victory of her training career in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.
“Distance seems to be right up her alley. She galloped out super strong yesterday.”
Bahen, who is Halden’s fiancé and has been Nipissing’s only race-rider to date, saw improvement in the filly’s Woodbine Oaks effort.
“She was very good yesterday,” Bahen said. “She was a little bit sharper. I got her to where I wanted her to be earlier.
“I knuckled up on her at the three-quarters and got into her. When you call on her and ask her to run, she does. It’s like pulling the throttle on a motorcycle.”
Bahen was winning his second Woodbine Oaks, the first coming with Silent Fleet in 1996. He also won the 2002 Queen’s Plate with the improbable T.J.’s Lucky Moon.
The Krembils won the 2004 Queen’s Plate with the late Niigon, who is the sire of Nipissing.
Spring the Air eyeing Plate
Spring in the Air, who came from last in the field of eight to end second under rider Joel Rosario in the Woodbine Oaks, also has the Queen’s Plate on her to-do list.
“If she trains well, there’s a million reasons to run,” said Casse, who conditions Spring in the Air for John Oxley. “Joel thought that maybe he gave her a little too much to do, but he’s learning how to ride her.
“I have a great respect for the winner, though. I thought she ran exceptionally well and I think she’s probably as much the horse to beat as anybody in the Queen’s Plate.
“But, that being said, she beat us .75 lengths and when you’re only beaten that far, it just takes a little difference in the trip or something.”
Original Script points to Bison City
Original Script, trained by Paul Attard and also owned by Chiefswood, led to deep stretch before finishing third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.
“She ran well,” Attard said. “It’s too bad she got nothing out of her first start in Florida.”
Original Script had trailed badly when making her seasonal bow in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks before winning the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Trillium Stakes here May 18.
The $250,000 Bison City, a 1 1/16-mile race here June 30 that follows the Woodbine Oaks as the second leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, should be Original Script’s next start.
“She’ll be cutting back to a mile and a sixteenth, and she’ll be a lot tighter,” Attard said.
No set plans for Pierce’s pair
Smartyfly and Dance Again, the respective fourth and fifth-place Woodbine Oaks finishers for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Malcolm Pierce, have no specific races underlined for their next appearances.
Smartyfly was coming into the Woodbine Oaks off a second-place finish behind Spring in the Air in the Fury, while Dance Again was making her first start in seven weeks and first on Polytrack.
“I think Smartyfly ran her race; she tried,” Pierce said. “I’m not sure what I’ll do with her.”
“With Dance Again, I was a little concerned about the Polytrack going into the race. I think she’ll move up when she gets back on the grass.”
Pierce was involved in two nail-biting photos here Sunday, coming out on the wrong end with His Race to Win in the Plate Trial, but getting the bob with Overheard in the $130,250 Alywow.
Bred in Kentucky by her owner, Josephine Abercrombie, Overheard became a stakes winner in the Alywow, a 6 1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-old fillies.
“She’s just a 100 percent tryer; she gives you everything she’s got,” said Pierce, who has sent out Overheard to win two of six starts while finishing in the money on each occasion including Grade 3 stakes-placings over one mile of turf at Keeneland and 1 1/16 miles of Polytrack here in the Selene.
“This race was just too short for her, but she got there anyway. She was running back three weeks after the Selene; I won’t be looking for a spot for her for a while.”
The Aug. 17 Ontario Colleen, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000, is a logical target for Overheard.
Handle up on Woodbine Oaks Day card
A total of $5,070,952 was wagered on Sunday’s 10-race card, which represented an increase of almost 20 percent over last year’s $4,238,277.
Wagering on the Woodbine Oaks itself was down 4.8 percent, from $702,605 to $668,945.
Langstaff stays perfect in Bold Ruckus
Langstaff ran his record to 3 for 3 here last Saturday with a rallying victory in the $125,800 Bold Ruckus, a six-furlong turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.
Owned by Rolph Davis and trained by Bob Tiller, Langstaff won his maiden and landed his first allowance conditions in restricted six-furlong races on the main track.
“He had every excuse to get beat,” said Tiller, who watched Langstaff take the Bold Ruckus by a neck with a last-gap surge under Luis Contreras. “He’s got a lot of desire to finish, obviously. He’s been in trouble in all of his races.”
The $150,000 Achievement, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds here June 29, is Langstaff’s next target.
Sisterly Love romps in Trillium
Sisterly Love is a two-turn horse, a point that she made emphatically when stretching out from the six-furlong Whimsical to romp in Saturday’s Trillium at 1 1/16 miles.
“She had trained like she was brilliant, at times,” said Mark Casse, who trains Sisterly Love.
Sisterly Love debuted last fall, going undefeated in three outings before being purchased privately by Gary Barber.
“She’s 5-years-old, but she won her first three starts pretty much by going to the lead every time,” Casse said. “So when we got her, she was kind of like a young horse. She needed more seasoning. She kind of got intimiated.
“We moved her around a lot, too, and it was nice to get her settled here.”
Casse is looking to the July 20 Ontario Matron, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000, for Sisterly Love’s next start.